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October Revolution in Vienna

October Revolution in Vienna On October 6, in Vienna, after the revolutionary fighting and unrest in Frankfurt/Main and other towns in central and south Germany, began the biggest popular uprising in the German Confederation during the autumn phase of the revolution of 1848. The rebellion began when Austrian soldiers refused to fight against the revolutionary Hungary. Within a few hours a revolutionary movement arose in that long politically heated town among, in particular among workers, craftsmen, and students. The rage of the people focused especially on the government quarters and on the counterrevolutionary troops which people feared would advance on progressive forces in the capitol following the defeat of the revolution in Italy and the move into Hungary. Thus, on October 6, the seat of government in the ministry of war was stormed. As a result of this assault the Minister Theodor Baillet von Latour was killed. The government (with the exception of the Minister of Finance Philipp von Krauss) and the emperor fled to Olmütz. These events brought about a risky confrontation. In Vienna the city council took power and drew on revolutionary workers, citizens and students for support. The Viennese revolutionaries of Vienna declared their solidarity with the Hungarian people, but underestimated the importance of the Slavs' struggle of liberation. The Reichstag meeting in Vienna, was indecisive between the revolution and old regime, but its majority increasingly sided with the government.

The government camp rallied around the military and the aristocracy those forces interested in tough measures against the revolution and in the full restoration of the Hapsburg power in the Reich. On October 17, Field Marshall Alfred Candid von Windischgrätz received the order to put down the insurrection. Under his command were also the troops deployed in Hungary under the Croatian army leader Joseph Jellachich de Buzim. On October 23, a force of 70,000 imperial soldiers completed the siege of Vienna. The defenders of the capitol were able to muster an armed force of 30,000 to 40,0 00 men (mobile guard, academic legion, revolutionary corps) under the command of Cesar Wenzel Messenhauser, but many of the fighters were poorly armed or untrained. The insurgents'only chance would have been reinforcements from outside or military relief from Hungary. But the only deputation arriving in Vienna was a group of four deputies from the Frankfurt national assembly led by Robert Blum, whose arrival in Vienna was only moral support for the insurgents. On October 26, the suburbs were under fire. After a three-day struggle, the besiegers stood on the fortifications of the inner city. The defenders put up courageous resistance in their almost hopeless struggle, especially when their hopes were aroused by the approach of the Hungarian army. But with the Hungarians' defeat at Schwechat on October 30, the Viennese insurgents' last hope vanished. The number of army casualties included some 200 dead; around two thousand revolutionaries lost their lives. There was looting and ransacking . The leaders of the uprising were court martialed, nineteen of them sentenced to death. Robert Blum, the leader of the left in the Frankfurt national assembly, died first.

The October uprising was the Viennese workers and students' last revolutionary act during the revolution of 1848/49. The defeat cleared the way for re-establishment of Hapsburg power and its renewal.
Günther Hildebrandt


Helmuth Grössing, Der Kampf um Wien im Oktober 1848 "Militärhistorische Schriftenreihe" 23 Vienna, 1973.

Wolfgang Häusler, Von der Massenarmut zur Arbeiterbewegung: Demokratie un Soziale Frage in der Wiener Revolution von 1848 Vienna/Munich 1979.

Maren Seliger and Karl Ucakar, Wien. Politische Geschichte 1740-1934 I (1740-1895), Vienna/Munich 1985.

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